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INTERVIEW: Just have to get your head round it

6 February 2015

Striker Stephen Elliott on the rehab process

University of Cumbria student Jak Harris sat down with striker Stephen Elliott to get an update on how his rehab is going following the rupturing of his Achilles tendon in the 2-1 home victory over Oxford in October.

“It’s been going along nicely, although in the first couple of months there was a bit of frustration,” he said. “I was in a cast and a boot and it meant I couldn’t really get around very well. Since they came off I’ve been able to do a bit more, which is definitely better for me.”

“In the early stages of the rehab I had to do a lot of work on calf muscle strength to help get the leg moving and functioning properly,” he explained. “That involves work on the exercise bike and obviously doing calf exercises. It’s a slow process but I’m definitely starting to see an improvement, especially over the past few weeks.”

Speaking about the injury, he said: “What I actually did was rupture my Achilles tendon. It happened when I was running to close the full back and I felt a massive pain in the back of my leg.
“It felt like someone had taken a kick at me. I turned round expecting to see a defender behind me but there wasn’t anyone within twenty yards. It was then that I realised what I’d done.”

“For me, on a personal level, it was hard to take,” he admitted. “I’d already been out for a long time with my knee problems and I was just starting to get my fitness back. 

“My knee was feeling good and I was able to train and play. To then get another serious injury, completely separate to the knee, was definitely hard to take. You just have to get your head round it for the first few months, but the club have been great. They got me in and got the surgery done right away.”

“It feels like I’ve been constantly injured for the past couple of years,” he told us. “I think it was even more devastating because I’d been playing. I still felt I had some way to go before I was back to my best but it was all starting to come together.

“When you get a setback like this, you just have to find the motivation from within. You obviously see the lads come in for training and you just want to be part of it. That’s when it comes down to being sensible. You have to get your head round the rehab process and realise that it does take time. Your body speaks to you and it lets you know when you’re ready to come back.”

“It can be quite lonely if you’re the only player out injured,” he agreed. “Gary Dicker and Billy Paynter have been out with their own injury problems, but the rehab process is a personal process. 

“It’s only you who can get yourself back to fitness and out on the grass. It’s down to how you sue your own mental strength to get through these difficult situations.”

“There’s no specific date for a comeback yet,” he revealed. “The surgeon did say it would probably be between six and nine months so, as I said earlier, you just have to listen to your body and take it week by week. 

“The next big step for me will be doing some running. I’m not quite there yet but I can feel myself getting closer with each passing week. Lee Fearn and Neil Dalton have been great, plus I have the plan laid out in front of me, so I know what I need to do.”

And the final issue to be resolved was an explanation of where the nickname ‘Sleeves’ came from.

“It’s an Irish thing back from when I was a kid,” he said. “If someone was telling a story, and I didn’t believe it, I’d say ‘sleeves up’ as in ‘I don’t believe you.’

“It’s also to do with when you’re playing a match and you’re getting serious, so you roll up your sleeves. I used to say it quite regularly when I was at Sunderland, so Mick McCarthy started to call me ‘Sleeves’ and it stuck with me over the past 10 to 11 years.”

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